For the second straight year, William Byron is the first multi-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, picking up the victory in Sunday’s United Rentals Work United 500 at Phoenix Raceway.
Byron, only the second driver to score back-to-back wins in the NextGen car, scored the victory in a similar template to last weekend at Las Vegas, thanks to a bold two-tire strategy call by crew chief Rudy Fugle.
Different from last weekend, though, the Charlotte, North Carolina driver wasn’t the dominant driver throughout the afternoon, but did start the event on a strong note, leading 62 of the first 63 laps.
But, after the first stage finished and the Hendrick Motorsports driver lost the lead on pit road – to his teammate Kyle Larson – it became difficult for the No. 24 to retain track position near the lead.
Throughout the event, Byron continued to slowly backslide through the top five, losing positions to Kyle Larson initially, and then eventually to Kevin Harvick and Christopher Bell, initially placing him out of contention for the victory.
In the meantime, Larson was the dominant force in Sunday’s 312-lap contest, continuing the painfully obvious speed that the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro displayed in practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday.
Though he commanded the event for 201 laps, that didn’t stop the script from completely flipping upside down in the final run of the race, where Kevin Harvick was able to capitalize on a great pit stop to stay within range of Larson, eventually passing him inside the final 50 laps.
Harvick, who will continue to look for his tenth victory at Phoenix Raceway in his final trip to the track in November, was negatively impacted by the yellow, when he and Rodney Childers elected to take four tires on the final pit stop.
Coming to the second-to-last restart, Larson, Byron, Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Blaney were playing defense on two tires, against those with four tires like Kevin Harvick, and Tyler Reddick.
A multi-car accident on the restart, between Ty Gibbs, AJ Allmendinger, and Noah Gragson, forced the race to head into NASCAR Overtime for the second consecutive weekend, with Larson and Byron – teammates at Hendrick Motorsports on the front row.
After a great launch, Byron was able to stick to the outside of Larson on the restart, finding himself able to clear the field heading into the third corner, and coming to the white flag, a gap he was able to maintain throughout the final lap.
Ryan Blaney, who nearly got into Kyle Larson on the second-to-last restart, came home in the runner-up position, with Tyler Reddick finishing in third – as the first driver to put four tires on his car during the final set of pit stops.
After leading 200-plus laps, Kyle Larson came home in fourth place, while Kevin Harvick was able to further extend his top-10 streak at Phoenix Raceway with a fifth-place finish.
Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Kyle Busch, Alex Bowman, and Josh Berry (!) were able to leave Phoenix Raceway with top-10 results, after a hard-fought battle between many drivers in one of the hottest races of the year.
Leaving Phoenix, Alex Bowman leads Kevin Harvick by three points in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, with Ross Chastain, William Byron, and Kyle Larson rounding out the top five in points.
However, the point standings could be altered mid-week, should there be penalties to the Hendrick Motorsports entries for the louvers that were confiscated from the organization throughout the weekend.